Every year J.D. Powers and Associates surveys thousands of people, including thousands of travelers, hoping to make life easier for consumers. As an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel who works closely with travelers and travel managers, I feel that the results of this survey can be very valuable as decisions are made that can significantly affect how pleasant a travel experience can be. These results will not only assist corporate road warriors and business travelers, but those who travel for leisure can certainly benefit from the results of this survey as they research car rental companies, hotels and airlines. To read about consumer satisfaction among major travel industry vendors click here.
From state to state cell phone usage and texting while driving restrictions differ. So … if you happen to reside in a state where there are no bans, and are accustomed to these laws, you might want to check out the following websites to know what you might be up against when venturing into “unknown territories.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers updated info and stats. Nine states presently ban this altogether–check to see if your state is one of them. Another site, GHSA , offers additional info.
During a recent Utah Business Travel Association monthly meeting, we heard from an interesting, attention-getting guest speaker: Kevin Coffey. Kevin has been a detective for 20 plus years and is an expert on travel safety via air, rail, and car, including hotel stays and international travel. I quickly realized what a great resource Kevin and his websites could be for Christopherson’s clients, especially business travelers.
I am pretty savvy when it comes to traveling, but I learned some new and important information. During the lunch meeting, Kevin even set-up a fake scenario with a tray of dishes crashing to the floor to show our group first-hand how purses and laptops can be taken without the owner even noticing. It all happened in a matter of seconds during all the chaos of people trying to help.
To learn more about travel safety for your upcoming trip, or if you are updating your company’s travel policy, check-out Kevin Coffey’s websites. It could save your life.
After scanning through various articles this week I came upon one titled How to Score an Upgrade: Air, Car and Hotel on CNN Money.com. I was so enthralled that I thought I would share parts of it with you along with some extra’s from Christopherson Business Travel.
Your odds: One in one hundred.
Pick your plane wisely. Passengers on certain Boeing 757s (with 26 first-class seats to 158 in coach) have a better shot than those on an Airbus 320 (12 first-class, 126 coach). Check out a plane’s layout at seatguru.com.
Scope out the cabin. The more empty seats in first class, the better your chances of landing one. To check out the load factor, go to the airline website just before check-in, start to book a business-class ticket, and click “view seat map”.
Ask at the right time. The best day for upgrades is Saturdays; fewer elite travelers fly then. Go to the agent and say something like: “If you need to bump people from coach to first, please consider me. I’m low maintenance — and my back is killing me.”
Your odds: One in five. Occupancy rates for the first half of 2010 were estimated at a dismal 56% (down from 63% in ’07), reports Smith Travel Research.
Ask your Christopherson agent for negotiated specials. Christopherson has negotiated rates in various cities where you might be traveling to. For example, most likely when booking the Christopherson rate at the Hilton in Salt Lake City your chances for an upgrade are good plus you receive a complimentary loaded buffet breakfast, free parking, free internet and double Hilton points.
Stay at business hotels on weekends. You can improve your upgrade chances by staying Thursday to Sunday vs. midweek.
Ask multiple times. Use the special-requests option when booking your hotel. Once your reservation has been made by a Christopherson specialist, call the hotel directly. Talk to the desk clerk at check-in, “We’re here celebrating special event. Any chance of an upgrade?”
Check in late. Most guests show up around 3 p.m., so arrive after 7, when the front desk knows which rooms are left.
Your odds: One in 20. Many car vendors cut fleets in 2008 and 2009, making upgrades less common.
Choose the right car. If a company runs out of the vehicle class you reserved, you will be upgraded. Book a midsize car — it’s the most in demand.
Reserve at the right time. Friday nights and Monday mornings are peak pickup times. That means there’s less chance the car class you specify will be available.
Ask for special offers. Ask your Christopherson agent for any free or discounted weekend days (Avis coupon code TUCAO53 and mention your corporate AWD number. Exp 4/2011. Coupons available at Christopherson Business Travel while they last). Check with your credit card company or coupon travel magazines.
For more information Christopherson’s corporate competitive advantages please contact one of our account managers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am so excited about the recent news involving CLEAR’s come-back now that the economy is beginning to recover and the long process of Alcear’s purchasing of VIP’s CLEAR assets from bankruptcy is completed.
I loved this service!! Hopefully within a year to 18 months the airports that provided the original Clear service will follow Denver’s lead. It is a much needed service for those of us who travel for business but can’t quite chalk up enough miles for the airline programs yet are on the road enough to make CLEAR’s subscription fee worth every penny!
So… all travelers who were members of Clear, those jealous every time you watched your fellow road warriors in the “Clear Lane” move quickly through the security lanes, and those who want to know more about this value-added program; go to their website and let them know which airports are important to you in providing this time-saving service.
May 24, 2010 – Delta Air Lines continues to work with the TSA to ensure ongoing compliance with TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) standards. Adherence with the required TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data standards is required for Delta and all airlines for travel to/from/through the U.S. effective November 1, 2010. Specifically, the regulation requires customers to supply the SFPD information at the time of ticketing. This includes full name, date of birth, gender and optional redress number.
Agencies are asked to provide SFPD information by July 1, 2010. While Delta will continue to accept agency reservations without complete SFPD data beyond July 1, passengers whose flights depart on November 1 or later will be required to see a ticket agent if SFPD was not included in their reservation.
All airlines with flights to/from and within the United States will be required to adhere to SFPD standards, including Delta’s joint venture partners – Air France and KLM. These partners are under separate TSA timelines. Specific Air France and KLM TSA Secure Flight information will be communicated separately.
It should only be a matter of time before the other airlines will be making official announcements regarding their timelines. We appreciate your cooperation in helping to be prepared to meet this important TSA requirement.
• Complete information on Secure Flight can be found at • A complete list of acceptable forms of I.D. can be found at www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/layers/secureflight/index.shtm
• Information on the Redress process can be found at www.dhs.gov/trip
• For more on TSA privacy policies, or to review the system of records notice and the privacy impact assessment, please see the TSA Web site at www.tsa.gov
If you were that business traveler, had booked your travel through Christopherson, and were stranded in any of the recent east coast snow storms; you were in good hands. Why—because the last time you were stranded we took exceptional care of you then. This situation happens every year and every year our agents amaze me in how they service our clients. Here are just a few ways they assisted stranded passengers over the past few weeks.
- Made the calls to the airlines and were on hold for hours—one agent 5 hours changing an international flight.
- Provided clients with waivers from the airlines to obtain refunds when they were either unable to make the trip (meeting cancelled) or half way through their trip their return flight was cancelled. If you booked through the airlines websites or online agencies, you had to make the call to the airline and stay on hold for hours. One agent tried for an entire day to change a clients booking through the airline while his client went about his usual work schedule.
- When passengers leaving to catch a flight, checked the airline websites, and found flights were showing confirmed (not cancelled); contacted us just to make sure. In numerous instances our computer system indicated the flights were cancelled. We then rebooked, reissued, and the traveler showed up at the airport with no surprises. That trip to Florida was made after all to close the business deal.
- If you were lucky enough to have the airline call and explain just how they had re-accommodated you on another flight to return home only to find out it was two days later than originally ticketed, our agents were able to get you back much sooner.
- Our after-hour emergency number was available on the weekend allowing for the same type changes, processing of refunds, and rescheduling.
Our many resources provide a “peace of mind” to business travelers whether they are our special numbers to make changes quicker; or, the ability to process airline waivers when changes are necessary so you don’t have to stand in line at the airport. We can provide options, for instances, rebooking your desired flight on another airline and processing the refund for your unused ticket. Time is money. For the price of our low service fee—we’ve got you covered!
Cashless toll roads are becoming a huge problem for car rental companies who in turn are hiring third party collection agencies. These agencies then tack on outrageous fees which show up on a renter’s credit card bill sometimes months later.
For instances on my last trip to Denver I did not sign up for the daily toll road access fee figuring I would not need to travel on E-470 (cashless toll road) which is exactly what happen. What if, however, at the last minute my meeting ended late, there was a horrific accident on I-225 backing up travel for hours; what would I have done? Most likely wanting to get home that evening I would have taken E-470 in order to make my flight and then worried about the fee later. With some rental car companies you have a choice of a daily toll fee of $8.95, or $32.95 a week…OR… by declining a fee and then driving on a cashless toll road receiving fines long after your expense report has been completed, approved, and paid.
In Jeffrey Leib’s article in The Denver Post, Nov 29, 2009, “Cashless E-470 takes toll on rental-car drivers in the form of fines,” he talks about how irritating the problem can be and how one traveler was fined $125 – only $11 being toll fees.
Christopher Elliot on his blog, www.elliot.org discusses this same problem, http://www.elliott.org/blog/are-car-rental-companies-overbilling-customers-for-toll-violations and how charges and fines are also showing up months later for supposed traffic violations, http://www.elliott.org/blog/help-my-car-rental-company-charged-me-for-running-a-red-light.
In other words – BE AWARE!!
Back in 2008, a new cool way to pass through security lines for frequent business travelers that do not have as much time as others was introduced at 18 selected airports. Clear, a company founded by Verified Identity Pass just announced this week that they would be closing up shop and would not be able to refund travelers who had prepaid or recently renewed their subsciption. That went over like a long tailed cat in a room full of rockers!
From the article written by Thomas Frank, a statement on Verified’s website said the company “had been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations.” There was no information about whether enrollees would get refunds.
TSA’s express security grounded
This was supposed to be the best thing out there for those who were traveling on a constant basis and needing to avoid long lines. The fee was a little steep, (around $200 annually) but heck, I pay $50 a month for the Carpool lane on I-15. Maybe if Clear would have monitored those who enter the carpool lane illegally, then they might still be in business.
We have become a society of quickness and ease. I guess for now our best option out there until someone comes out with a better plan than that of Clear, is to fly enough miles that you can access the medallion lines or travel with someone that does have that elite status…..You could always jump the lines like the car that did in front of me today!
The U.S Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has initiated a new program to require the airlines to provide additional information for passengers regarding more detailed identification. The program is called Secure Flight and when fully implemented will require airlines to provide information such as passenger gender , birth date and full name. For now, travelers may not see much of a difference because the program is being rolled out in steps. The TSA is seeking this information so it can expedite security screening and clear passengers for flights.
Airline software programs need to be revised to accept the new information that wasn’t previously required. The TSA is giving the airline industry time to implement programs to hold and transmit the information. The goal is to have airlines ready to provide this additional data to the TSA by late summer on domestic flights and by fall for international flights. The timeline is flexible at this time and full implementation may not be realized until 2010.
What does this mean for travelers? The best proactive step travelers can do is check the forms of identification they use for travel and be sure that their legal name reads the same on drivers license and passport. Also be sure that membership numbers for airline , car and hotel frequent flyer programs also read with the same name information so travel credit can continue to be automatically credited to accounts.
This new client found us on Google. Not being satisfied with their present provider’s service or the cost for that service decided to make a switch to Christopherson Business Travel because CBT offered additional services, exclusive technology, and competitive transaction fees.
This new client was very surprised at how soon and how much they were able to save in just the first month with CBT. Their initial goal was to convert most of their travel to our online booking tool. While waiting for the online booking tool to be customized for them, our full service agent was able to save them an average of 23% on each trip (air, car, hotel, and fees). Our experienced, knowledgeable, and professional agents provide exceptional customer service AND positively affected this company’s bottom line. Now—that’s something to talk about!
We would like to welcome you to the Christopherson Business Travel blog. When I say we, I do mean “We” as this blog will have a number of contributors who will be covering a wide range of topics and issues. We are really excited by the prospect of being able to discuss many topics that impact the business of travel and the life of travelers. We hope that you will find this blog interesting, useful or fun and that you will come back to visit it frequently.
Some of the topics that I will address over the coming months include things like frequent traveler programs, travel related news that I think you might find useful or interesting or what our friends at the TSA are planning on doing next. As an example of what you might find is a short blog on how to gain more miles or how to keep them from expiring due to inactivity. Or I may discuss the ever changing world of airline fare rules, baggage rules and assorted fees being charged.
I hope that you will find this blog worthwhile and enjoyable.